Global Experts Urge Vegan Diet Shift For Climate at Plant-Based Asia Summit

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Leading global experts on health and sustainability are set to take the stage at the upcoming Plant-Based Asia Summit to urge for a mass shift towards vegan diets. The virtual event will feature panel discussions to empower attendees with the latest research on how plant-based food choices are part of the solution in fighting climate change and rising chronic diseases in the region. 

Taking place from 1-3 November, the Plant-Based Asia Summit is set to bring together 30 of the world’s leading experts in food tech, health, and sustainability to encourage the transition towards plant-based diets. Over the course of the three-day online conference, attendees will gain insights about how to become “part of the solution” when it comes to fighting the climate emergency and health crises through their food choices. 

Plant-Based Asia Summit

Organised by environmental NGO Indonesia Indah Foundation with support from a number of leading food techs in the region, including Singaporean plant-based chicken startup TiNDLE and vegan review app abillion, the event is in its first debut year. Among some of the experts set to take the stage include Food Revolution Network co-founder Ocean Robbins, nutrition expert Dr. Joel Fujurman, and Dr. Neal Barnard, the founding president of the  Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). 

PCRM is a nonprofit based in the US promoting plant-based diets and alternatives for animal research, and has recently filed a lawsuit to compel California Governor Gavin Newsom to add processed meat, a listed carcinogen under WHO standards, to Prop 65, a list of substances known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. 

At the upcoming summit, Dr. Neal Barnard will share more about the rising health challenges across Asia-Pacific and globally, and how plant-based diets will be at the centre of reversing rates of diabetes, an especially pressing matter given that it has been linked to higher mortality rates in Covid-19 patients. 

“The risk of dying from Covid-19 is much higher in those with diabetes than in those without it. But it isn’t just a question of whether you have diabetes, it is also a question of whether your diabetes is under control,” shared Dr. Barnard. “If we’re able to avoid diabetes or get it under the best control with easy to implement lifestyle changes, we’re stronger against Covid-19.” 

Read more: Plant-based food system shift crucial to halt biodiversity loss, experts warn

Diets for the climate

Aside from tackling health issues, from rising zoonotic diseases, the coronavirus pandemic and diet-related chronic illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, the Summit will also focus on plant-based lifestyles as a solution for the planet. 

“We can be a part of the solution on planet Earth,” said Robbins. “We can make food choices that will contribute to reversing climate change, that will contribute to future generations having water and soil and healthy air and environment, that contribute to living healthier lives.”

At the core of the world’s broken food system is animal agriculture, which drives nearly a fifth of all GHG emissions—more than that of all types of global transportation combined. In a recent Meat Atlas report, researchers revealed just 5 meat and dairy firms together contribute a larger share of GHG emissions than big oil giants like Exxon and BP. 

As the climate emergency intensifies, greater attention is now being paid to how individual dietary choices contribute to one’s environmental footprint—with the onus on people in richer nations, the largest consumers of animal-based products, to take the lead in shifting towards more sustainable diets. 

A mass shift towards flexitarianism or part-time veganism in just the world’s 20 biggest economies, for instance, would free up around 40% of the global carbon budget for food. 


All images courtesy of Unsplash.


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